NEW YORK (PIX11) – Yellow school buses hit the roads Tuesday morning but both the union for drivers and the city say a strike is imminent. More than 8,000 bus drivers and matrons are set to walk off the job Wednesday affecting some 152,000 students. The union wants job protection in any new bus company contracts set to go to bid, which is something the mayor says the city can’t do.
“We have told the unions in unequivocal terms, do not walk out on our students,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in wake of the latest developments.
The issue is money. The city wants to put the contracts up for bids to lower transportation costs which are the highest in the country. They say they would put the savings into the classroom.
The union wants to protect it’s members from losing their jobs under new contracts to non union drivers. But the mayor says the courts have ruled it illegal to include job protections in the new contracts. The union disagrees saying it is not illegal to add the job protections.
In the meantime the city has taken some steps to prepare for the walkout. Students will be given free metro cards at schools. Parents of special needs students will be reimbursed for travel expenses.
The last time school bus drivers went out on strike was 34 years ago and it lasted 3 months.